For most visitors to Moldova, the local markets and wine stores are a main focus of shopping, although prices in the malls of Chisinau are much cheaper than the rest of Europe.
The main shopping area in Moldova’s capital runs along Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and Mihai Eminescu Street, and offers a vast choice of fashion from luminaries such as Hugo Boss, Zara, Klein, Benetton, and other brand names. The new mall is Shopping Mall Dova, set adjacent to the viaduct that connects the city center with Botianica, a modern glass-and-concrete temple to consumerism. Western outlets such as Debenhams, Polo, Swarovski, Pepe Jeans, and Lacoste are located here, and the mall stays open as late as 10 pm.
For authentic local craft souvenirs, Chisinau’s Arts Square open-air market in Stefan cel Mare Street is small but well filled with stalls selling traditional woven and embroidered goods, carvings, textiles, clothes, pottery, cookwares, jewelry, leather goods, rugs, carpets, handmade lace, and traditional musical instruments. The city’s huge Central Market, set in and around Piata Centrala, first opened in 1825 and is a people-watching delight. It holds endless stalls selling fresh produce, cooked foods, cheeses, wine, brandy, and bread in a hive of constant activity and noisy bargaining.
Another good place to pick up souvenirs and fashion is Pushkin Street’s Trade Center next to Cathedral Park. It’s a supermarket-style building with goods on sale between US $10 and US $650. Bargains can be found in shoes and purses and much more. If you don’t make it to Europe’s largest wine cellar, the Cricova wine store in Chisinau is at Stefan cel Mare Street and sells a good selection of drinks, while Chisinau’s parks in summer are buzzing with displays from talented local artists and craftspeople. The traditional Russian Matrioshka stacking dolls are popular in Moldova, make fun gifts for friends back home, and are easily found in the markets and malls.